Sunday, November 29, 2020

Trailer Crud of Terror: Dolly Deadly (2016)

Dolly Deadly (2016)
Rating: **
Starring: Justin Moore, Kimberly West-Carroll, Jay Sosnicki

What if we take the first half of Rob Zombie's Halloween (2007), stretch that into a feature film at the cost of as little funds as possible and focus more on the trailer trash life? Most of us would likely fear the results but here it is, Dolly Deadly (2016). Yeah.

We open this hicksploitation for the modern age with a chain smoking single mom trying out a new hair dye, not knowing that the chemicals in it are so tainted, it eats through scalp and skull until brain matter gush out. The end result is a dead mother and a newly orphaned baby boy crying his eyes out.  

Flash forward a couple of years later, Benji is now a preteen boy living with his trashy grandma and her freeloading boyfriend. His only friends are his mom's dolls who are alive in his imagination but this, of course, doesn't sit well for the rest of the neighborhood so lil' Benji is seen as a freak. Harassed and abused, it isn't long before his sanity starts slipping and he wants bloody retribution against those who crossed him. 

To be fair, as an indie production, Dolly Deadly has a lot of spirit in the sense that the people working around it really went all out with what they can use and do with a budget worth two potatoes and the result is admirable. The cinematography done for Benji's dream and imagination sequences, for one, works with their dark bubblegum color schemes and partial animation done in stop-motion which adds to the creepiness and craziness of the boy's slowly unhinging perspective. The plot doesn't dwell any deeper than a ticking timebomb of emotion and psychological abuse until the fantastically violent last act which sort of delivers, but I still really couldn't bring myself to give this anything higher than a lukewarm pat on the back due to its drawbacks.

The predictability of a lot of its scenes meant sitting through them can be a chore, especially when the acting involved dips down from mediocre to crass which the film does from time to time. In fact, with a large bulk of the film focusing greatly on Benji shouldering the weight of his trashy life, the pacing really dragged itself around the boy's suffering at the hands and tongues of his tormentors, thus perfecting the image of a dysfunctional childhood life a tad too well that it gets banally offbeat way longer than it needed to be and it's barely enjoyable. Add the matter that the amateur editing and obvious low budget can get very distracting when it actually hits you in the face and you got here a tired, tedious and overblown slow burn act that aims high, only to hit it a few steps down midway.

Now, the last act wherein Benji finally starts his murderous streak does earn some points for its hamminess as literal doll parts become lethal murder weapons, apparently strong enough to pierce through skin and flesh, or be used as a bludgeon to break open a hapless victim like a piƱata. All of this committed by an eight-year old slasher boy in a drag and a papermache mask and, my gods, I'm loving it until the movie settles with a low murder count, thus leaving me with an unsatisfied taste in my mouth after sitting through all of that build-up.

If any of this dive down to low-budget psychological craft sounds like a keeper in your eyes then you definitely should try it out. Dolly Deadly (2016), again, has heart and effort in it, just not the kind that caters to my taste of revenge-fueled slashing, art house horrors or murderous kids. I'll leave all of that to good titles like The Children (2008) or Mikey (1992) while the rest of the world experience the effort that is this movie.

1 female got her scalp melted off and explode from a botched bottle of hair dye
1 female stabbed to death with swords (dream)
1 boy bludgeoned to death with a doll
1 male had his gut stabbed open with doll parts
1 female poisoned, face melted off with tainted face cream
1 female seen strangled with a belt
Total: 6

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